SB 743 Implementation

This web page has information about Caltrans SB 743-related work, and helpful resources for SB 743 implementation work around the state.


About Senate Bill (SB) 743

SB 743 was signed in 2013, with the intent to “more appropriately balance the needs of congestion management with statewide goals related to infill development, promotion of public health through active transportation, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”  When implemented, “traffic congestion shall not be considered a significant impact on the environment” within California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) transportation analysis.

SB 743 requires the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to identify new metrics for identifying and mitigating transportation impacts within CEQA.  For land use projects, OPR identified Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) per capita, VMT per employee, and net VMT as new metrics for transportation analysis.  For transportation projects, lead agencies for roadway capacity projects have discretion, consistent with CEQA and planning requirements, to choose which metric to use to evaluate transportation impacts.  

Regulatory changes to the CEQA Guidelines that implement SB 743 were approved on December 28, 2018.  July 1, 2020 is the statewide implementation date and agencies may opt-in use of new metrics prior to that date.  OPR released a December 2018 Technical Advisory that contains recommendations regarding assessment of VMT, thresholds of significance, and mitigation measures.


Caltrans Implementation

SB 743 affects important parts of Caltrans work: 

  • Review of local land use projects’ potential impact to the State Highway System through our Local Development-Intergovernmental Review program
  • Transportation analysis including induced vehicle travel demand analysis for projects on the State Highway System.


Caltrans is developing guidance documents to implement vehicle miles traveled in projects on the State Highway System, and our review of local development projects.  We are evolving our transportation analysis to be more multimodal—part of implementing our Strategic Management Plan 2015-2020. 


Caltrans Webinars

Caltrans discusses the guidance documents and SB 743 implementation work in a series of webinars.

In a November 8, 2019 webinar the need to reduce vehicle miles traveled to meet state air quality requirements and the three guidance documents are discussed.  The webinar’s power point is also available.


Projects on the State Highway System

Caltrans has chosen to use VMT as the CEQA transportation metric for projects on the state highway system.

Caltrans is working with partners to develop guidance that provides:

·         Process for a prospective phase‐in that does not require any re‐analysis and strives to ensure no

 delay for current projects – such as the programmed SB 1 and upcoming Local Measure projects.

·         Clarification of the type of projects requiring detailed VMT analysis.

·         Clarification on acceptable mitigation such as, but not limited to, VMT banking, regional investment program, and exchange mechanisms.

·         Quantification tools for VMT, including induced travel and methodology for VMT based analyses.

·         Clarification on safety and operations analysis, including tools to assess safety impacts, which could include use of LOS as an input for the safety analysis.


Caltrans Local Development-Intergovernmental Review (LD-IGR)

Caltrans created a high-level desk reference for District staff in 2016 that refocuses our Local Development-Intergovernmental Review (LD-IGR) program’s attention on local development project’s VMT, appropriate transportation demand measures (TDM), and determining how best to address multimodal operational issues. Contact for a copy of the document.

We are currently developing a Transportation Impact Study Guide (TISG) to further update Caltrans review procedures for local development projects.  The TISG is consistent with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research’s current Technical Advisory.


Question and Answer

We answer your questions on our SB 743 implementation here.  Updates are made on a continuing basis to our question and answer document.



Caltrans’ California Statewide Travel Demand Model (CSTDM) is available for use when calculating residential and office projects’ VMT.  Contact for a VMT data spreadsheet and shape files.


Research Efforts

Caltrans Division of Research and Innovation (DRISI) supports SB 743-related research efforts. 


·        Transportation Research Board. “In 2015, Caltrans sponsored a review of applicable induced vehicle travel research that could inform transportation analysis guidance in response to new laws in California such as Senate Bill 743, which prohibits the use of vehicle level of service and similar measures as the sole basis for determining significant transportation impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act.” (Source: Transportation Research Board).  Marc Birnbaum, Caltrans Traffic Operations (retired), co-authored the Transportation Research Board peer-reviewed paper:

VOLPE’s “Evolving Use of Level of Service Metrics in Transportation Analysis” includes a California case study on SB 743.  The paper is available at

FHWA’s November 30, 2017 webinar highlights the case study; click on the California 0:31:23 link. 


Early VMT Adopters around California

In November 2019, Caltrans Planning Horizons hosted a discussion by City of Los Angeles and City of San Jose about their early adoption of VMT thresholds.  Cities and counties around California may be interested in hearing about the impetus for and experience of creating the VMT thresholds.

Learn more about how local jurisdictions in California have switched to a VMT metric in CEQA transportation analysis.


Mitigating Vehicle Miles Traveled

Strategies that support mode shift, higher vehicle occupancy, shorter average vehicle trips, and transportation demand management can mitigate VMT.  VMT impacts should be mitigated to the maximum extent possible.  Current mitigation resources are highlighted here:

·         California Air Pollution Control Officers Association’ Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Measures report from August 2010 quantifies VMT reduction for mitigation measures


Additional Resources

The San Diego Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers has prepared updated regional Transportation Impact Study Guidelines to incorporate SB 743.  The May 2019 document titled “Guidelines for Transportation Impact Studies in the San Diego Region” is available at


SB 743 Case Studies.  The Urban Sustainability Accelerator at Portland State University created four case studies on how to apply the vehicle miles traveled metric to a highway project and three land use projects. 


Implementing SB 743: An Analysis of Vehicle Miles Traveled Banking and Exchange Frameworks.  This research paper from University of California Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment focuses on two innovative models that could be used to implement programmatic VMT mitigation strategies for land use or transportation projects. VMT mitigation “banks” and “exchanges” are compared, and examples provided of ways to mitigate VMT under CEQA or the mitigation fee act.  These models are conceptually similar to existing mitigation frameworks such as regional impact fee programs or habitat conservation banks.


Evaluation of Sketch-Level Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) Quantification Tools.  National Center for Sustainable Transportation “researchers compare and evaluate VMT estimation tools across a sample of land use projects. They compare the results from different tools for each project, consider the applicability of methods in particular contexts and for different types of projects, and assess data needs, relative ease of use, and other practical considerations.”  The research is not done within a CEQA context, but it is interesting to review the use of the VMT estimation tools.


For more information on Caltrans SB 743 implementation efforts or to receive updates on Caltrans SB 743 work via our listserv, contact:

Alyssa Begley

Caltrans SB 743 Program Implementation Coordinator

(916) 261-3389